Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Mason tells this story through a third-person narrator who conveys Waldeen’s thoughts and feelings. She characterizes Waldeen and her friends and family through the plain, unsophisticated, everyday language that they use—filled as it is with colloquialisms such as “youngun” and “okay” as well as with clichés such as “spend a fortune,” “gained a ton,” or “don’t know beans.” In this story as in Mason’s other works, her characters constantly use popular cultural references from television, business, and the entertainment industry as their frames of reference—the larger world to which they compare their own. They discuss going to the Tastee-Freez, participating in drag races, visiting Florida’s Sea World, driving LTD cars, and watching Evel Knievel’s daring feats on television. They recognize Colonel Sanders from fried chicken commercials, they name their cat “Mr. Spock” after a “Star Trek” character, they discuss figures such as Johnny Carson, Morley Safer, and Jimmy Durante as though they are close friends, and they compare their own lives to those they see on such television shows as The Waltons, All in the Family, and Sixty Minutes.

Although Mason suggests that her characters share a common culture—drawing on both mainstream American popular culture and western Kentucky traditions—they are less alike than they may appear. Joe Murdock, for example, functions as a foil for Joe...

(The entire section is 434 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Brinkmeyer, Robert H., Jr. “Finding One’s History: Bobbie Ann Mason and Contemporary Southern Literature.” Southern Literary Journal 19 (Spring, 1987): 22-33.

Flora, Joseph M. “Bobbie Ann Mason.” In Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South, edited by Joseph M. Flora and Robert Bain. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Price, Joanna. Understanding Bobbie Ann Mason. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.

Ryan, Maureen. “Stopping Places: Bobbie Ann Mason’s Short Stories.” In Women Writers of the Contemporary South, edited by Peggy Whitman Prenshaw. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1984.

Wilhelm, Albert. Bobbie Ann Mason: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1998